Support for the soul through breathing, sleep and healthy nutrition

Unterstützung für die Seele durch Atmung, Schlaf und gesunde Ernährung

Every year, at least 10% of Americans have concerns about improving their mood. Feeling low is a normal part of life, but there are some simple ways to improve your mood on rainy days.

Since our bodies were designed to experience vivid, diverse emotions, it's no surprise that some secrets to mood management come from nature.

Causes and risk factors for bad mood

What causes mood problems? Depression or excessive worry can be caused by:

Problems with female hormones
Side effects of medications
Substance abuse
Difficult living conditions
Daily stress
Loss and grief
Physical, mental or emotional trauma
A suboptimal function of the immune system
Physical injury or illness
3 keys to resilience: breathing, sleep and nutrition

1. Breathe

Oxygen is actually a nutrient, even if many of us don't think of it that way. In fact, it is the most important nutrient we need to survive!

When you're not in a good mood or feeling irritable, it can be challenging to breathe deeply to get enough oxygen.

Luckily, breathing exercises can help center you and support calm.

Box Breathing: This exercise uses the number 4 as a simple way to keep track of your breathing. Take a deep breath and hold your breath for 4 seconds. Breathe out until all oxygen is exhaled from the lungs and hold your breath for 4 seconds. Then repeat this process 4 times. You can draw a square (box) on the palm of your hand so you don't lose track.
Abdominal breathing: Abdominal breathing, i.e. breathing through the diaphragm, helps you deepen your breaths. First, lie down with pillows under your head and knees. Place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Inhale through your nose, making sure your stomach expands while your chest doesn't move much. Exhale through your mouth, using your abdominal muscles to push all the air out of your lungs.
Focus on the breath: While sitting or lying down, close your eyes and focus on every part of your body, from your feet to your forehead. After scanning your body once, begin breathing very slowly and deeply, continuing to pay attention to your body and how each breath feels. You can choose a word to focus on and even say it out loud as you exhale. Do this for about 20 minutes every day.
There are many online apps that can guide you through these and other breathing exercises. Check your device's App Store or Play Store until you find one you like.

2. Sleep

Lack of sleep - whether for a few hours a night or for an entire night - can cause anxiety, frustration and general restlessness in anyone.

Optimizing your sleep can increase your resilience to the stresses of everyday life.

Try these tips for better sleep:

Reduce exposure to blue light, especially before bed. The light spectrum from your digital devices is somewhat similar to daylight, which your body responds to by staying awake. Use blue light filters, sunglasses, and apps whenever you can, especially in the 2-3 hours before bed.
Move during the day (but not at night). Moderate exercise can have a positive impact on sleep by promoting the health of body systems that might otherwise remain idle.
Maintain a sleep routine, even on weekends. The most important thing is to go to bed at the same time every night. So get into the habit of setting an alarm to remind you to calm down.
Reduce alcohol and caffeine consumption before bed. Alcohol is a popular way for many people to fall asleep faster, but it leads to poor sleep quality. Caffeine should not be consumed 6-8 hours or more before bed as it keeps your brain more awake than you need for deep sleep.
Make your bedroom an oasis of sleep and peace. If possible, avoid working in your room during the day. Keep lights and noise low at night. Try to sleep at a temperature of at least 20 degrees Celsius in the bedroom and provide comfortable pillows, sheets and mattresses. You can even try an essential oil diffuser with a pleasant scent like lavender or chamomile to enhance the "oasis" experience.
Hide the clock in your bedroom to not only prevent exposure to bright light at night, but also prevent looking at the clock from causing a feeling of unrest.
Don't take a nap longer than 30 minutes during the day. Naps longer than 30 minutes (especially after 3 p.m.) can make it difficult to fall asleep at night.
If you're unsure about your sleep quality, consider trying a sleep app (perhaps with a wearable sleep monitoring device) to track changes over time.

3. Nutrition

Diet affects all areas of your health, from sleep to mood to immune system. Eliminating some triggers for mood problems and focusing on nutrient-dense foods that promote mental health can make a big difference to your emotional resilience.

These tips can help:

Reduce your sugar consumption. We've all probably experienced an afternoon sugar crash, and that's not a good feeling for anyone. By eliminating excess sugar from your life, you may not only avoid cravings, but you may also find that you experience fewer dramatic emotional swings throughout the course of a day.
Increase your consumption of (healthy) fats. Diets like the Mediterranean diet or the ketogenic diet appear to promote mental health, likely due to increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats. Avoid trans fats and focus on healthy, high-fat foods like almonds, fatty fish, avocados and olive oil.
Try the DASH diet. Developed by the American Heart Association, the DASH diet was originally designed to improve heart health metrics. However, it also appears to support a healthy mood better in the long term than a standard American diet.
Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods and drinks like kimchi, natto and kombucha contribute to a healthy gut. This, in turn, can help you deal with anxious feelings that arise throughout life. In general, foods that promote gut health are likely to be good for your mood.
Other means of supporting a positive attitude

In addition to these important areas to consider, some natural remedies can help promote healthy levels of resilience and mood stability:

Curcumin/turmeric: The turmeric root with its active ingredient curcumin is said to support a healthy mood.
Fish Oil: Omega-3 fatty acids, found in most fish oil supplements, are associated with a more positive outlook on life.
St. John's Wort: St. John's Wort is a proven herbal option for improving mood.
Rhodiola Rosea: This Ayurvedic adaptogenic herb may help promote resilience, especially during stress.
The gut-brain axis

This interaction between the brain and digestive system is called the gut-brain axis. In short, a dysbiotic or dysfunctional gut can impact our body's ability to maintain optimal mood.

It seems clear that healthy inflammation levels correlate with positive mood, although it's not clear what the other cause is.

For many people, this is a chicken-or-egg situation. Perhaps a life change, such as the death of a parent, has triggered a dark period in life. Long-term problems resulting from this event can then lead to a dysbiotic gut.

But perhaps the opposite was also the case. What if a lifelong diet of empty calories, sugar, and processed foods has impaired healthy inflammation levels and altered the brain's ability to think positively?

The gut-brain axis works via "bidirectional communication," meaning it is impossible to separate one from the other.

When you nourish your gut, and therefore your immune system, you are actively working to heal the effects of sadness and worry.

Conversely, a lifestyle that appeals to the body's desire for resilience can also support healthy inflammation levels and even a healthy gut.

A look into the future

If your most important health goal right now is mood, consider optimizing your breathing, sleep, and diet to promote positivity. A new life may be just around the corner.


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